I’ve remarked the quality of contemporary piano trio jazz in Scandinavia several times already in JJ. Recorded live (and very well) at Copenhagen’s famous Jazzhus Montmartre, here is further evidence of that quality, from a young Danish trio of lyrically and dynamically attuned improvisers of the first order.
They may call themselves Little North but on this evidence, Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen, Martin Brunbjerg Rasmussen and Lasse Jacobsen could be destined for big things. All the titles are credited to the trio and all speak of a remarkable “three-in-one” ability to project and develop diverse and compelling figures in music as lively as it is lucid and limpid. The sleeve-note speaks of Little North’s music as bringing back “glorious memories of Jan Johansson”. Crazy as it may sound, I don’t think such a characterisation does anything like full justice to what is on offer here.
Granted, Jacobsen’s lovely touch and melodic sensibility are not all that distant from the late Swedish master: hear Malleus (where Rasmussen’s excellent arco is featured) or the pensive opening and closing themes of Arise. But – as far as I can hear – there’s none of Johansson’s overtly atmospheric revisiting and refashioning of old folk motifs, with their staggered rhythms and tonal ambiguity.
We’re treated instead to piece after piece where aspects of such diverse legacies as those of the early Paul Bley and Keith Jarrett trios (sample Denmark and Sultan, the latter opening with some wonderful midnight blue pizzicato reflections from Rasmussen) are sparked into rich and resonant new life by musicians who know how to create and move within, across and beyond self-generating moods (sample the development of the initially lyrically charged Gateway, with its riffing piano and rolling, full on cross-accents from Jacobsen).
A welcome capacity to groove and rock can fire up the meditative and the musing side of this trio’s finely honed and exploratory poetics: hear Åska Och Blixt and Both Sides. All in all, the eponymous Little North has some of the most thoughtful and joyous, exploratory yet poetically resolved piano trio music I’ve heard in some time. A terrific release.
Denmark; Åska Och Blixt; Sultan; Malleus; Gateway; Arise; Both Sides (46.24)
Benjamin Nørholm Jacobsen (p); Martin Brunberg Rasmussen (b); Lasse Jacobsen (d). Jazzhus Montmartre, Copenhagen, 25 June 2019.
April Records APRO75CD